1
2

stern

2 of 2

noun

Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective stern contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of stern are ascetic, austere, and severe. While all these words mean "given to or marked by strict discipline and firm restraint," stern stresses inflexibility and inexorability of temper or character.

stern arbiters of public morality

Where would ascetic be a reasonable alternative to stern?

In some situations, the words ascetic and stern are roughly equivalent. However, ascetic implies abstention from pleasure and comfort or self-indulgence as spiritual discipline.

the ascetic life of the monks

When can austere be used instead of stern?

The meanings of austere and stern largely overlap; however, austere stresses absence of warmth, color, or feeling and may apply to rigorous restraint, simplicity, or self-denial.

living an austere life in the country

When is severe a more appropriate choice than stern?

While the synonyms severe and stern are close in meaning, severe implies standards enforced without indulgence or laxity and may suggest harshness.

severe military discipline

Thesaurus Entries Near stern

Cite this Entry

“Stern.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/stern. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

More from Merriam-Webster on stern

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ